The Signal Ridge and Mount Carrigain offer outstanding views of the White Mountains while avoiding the larger crowds on more popular, nearby 4,000-footers. Of the 48 4,000-footers in New Hampshire, Mount Carrigain is ranked 13th in height at 4,700 feet. Mount Carrigain gets its name from Philip Carrigain, who served five years as New Hampshire’s Secretary of State starting in 1805.
The trailhead is on a seasonal dirt road with a very large parking area, and the trail starts across the road from the parking lot. The Signal Ridge Trail is fairly easy for the first couple of miles as it meanders along and crosses Carrigain Brook. Keep an eye out for beavers and moose in the flat, boggy section just after the crossing and bear left at the trail junction with the Carrigain Notch Trail. Most of the elevation gain is done after this junction, and the ascent is steady once it starts going up.
It’s worth all the work when you finally reach the ridge, where you’ll see Mount Lowell, Mount Washington, and other surrounding peaks in the White Mountains. Don’t stop here though, because pushing on to the summit of Mount Carrigain rewards you with a 360-degree view from the observation tower, where you’ll see the Franconia Ridge, the Presidential Range, Mount Chocorua, and more. The old fire warden’s cabin no longer remains, but an old well can be seen to the right as you ascend. While the cabin and observation tower were in use, a road led to the top, and many of the trails in the area are part of old logging roads.